Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 January 2020:
Why is it that whenever there is political violence in Freetown, the president of Sierra Leone – Julius Maada Bio is out of the country?
Does this mean that those left behind to hold the reins of power are clueless about leadership and governance, or do they simply take advantage of the president’s absence to implement their divisive political agenda, causing chaos and anarchy in the country?
These are questions that the president ought to be reflecting upon, as he proudly presents himself as a model champion of good governance and strong leadership in Africa at the Abu Dhabi Summit today.
If those upon whom power is entrusted by president Bio to run the country in his absence are unable to do so, then the least they could do, is to help maintain the hard won peace which successive governments have painstakingly managed to build, after the country’s devastating civil war.
If they cannot do this, then it is time for president Bio to make hard decisions about the future of his deputies and senior officials, including the minister of internal affairs, the Inspector General of Police – who ‘technically’ will shortly be going into retirement.
On the very day of the bloody violence outside the opposition APC party office in Freetown, president Bio was making grand speeches to fellow Heads of State in Abu Dhabi, about his commitment and efforts in consolidating peace in Sierra Leone. What an irony. Hypocrisy, many would accuse the president.
President Bio was speaking about his government’s commitment to establish a Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, whilst back home in Freetown – supporters of his SLPP party were on the streets engaging in a senseless, bloody and dangerous running battle with opposition party supporters.
The international community will not be moved in providing funding for the establishment of a Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, simply because political leaders choose to invoke violence. They can only be moved by the efforts they could see on the ground, being made by politicians and stakeholders, in building and sustaining the peace, which can be achieved without spending millions of dollars on a Peace Commission. That money should be used to tackle poverty, provide skills training and create jobs for the young people that are being used by politicians to foment chaos and violence..
Speaking in Abu Dhabi as the rioting was taking place in Freetown, president Bio reiterated his commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goals. But how is he going to achieve this, with the country in constant heightened political tension, and households suffering serious economic hardship?
The President spoke about the progress his government has made in increasing access to education through the Free Quality Education Programme, which he says is benefitting over two million children. But all of this could be unravelled, if urgent attention is not directed at easing political tension in the country. Without peace and stability, there is no development.
He was speaking about the importance of investment in education, and calling on young people to take advantage of quality education so that they could become part of the country’s development process. But these are the same young people that are being used by rogue politicians to instigate political violence and chaos on the streets. (Photo: Deputy Internal affairs minister at the scene of the violence, Watch the video below with his supporters).
President Bio was also speaking about investment opportunities in Sierra Leone, especially in the energy sector; and advised other African governments to prioritise the use of science, technology and innovation in governance.
But the president must know that foreign investors will keep staying away from Sierra Leone, for as long as there is political tension and instability in the country, and bloody violence on the streets.
Sadly, what other African governments will see today, is not the attempts being made by his government in prioritising the use of science, technology and innovation in governance, but a weak and indecisive president, lacking leadership and the ability to sustain Sierra Leone’s hard won peace. Time to prove them wrong Mr President.
Mr President – it is time for change.
Watch this video Mr President: